- Are you a knowledge surfer or diver?
- Who knew that tree bark cures headaches?
- Discover the secrets of ancient herblore
The other day someone asked me if I enjoy ‘surfing’ the web.
Well, I use the Internet almost every day… but is ‘surfing’ the right word?
Surfing is a term that means skimming the surface of something. It’s a word for young people with no health worries. People who just want to go faster, look better on
They use Facebook and WhatsApp to keep in touch with each other (don’t worry if you haven’t got a clue what these things are, they’re mainly populated by pop stars,
media types and the under 30s!)
‘How r u?’ they ask each other.
‘Gr8 thanx’ they reply.
And then they swap short films of men’s trousers falling down or monkeys dancing to ABBA.
This is fine. It’s what surfing’s about, I suppose.
But I think of myself less as a surfer and more as a scuba diver, searching amongst the reeds, probing deeper for pearls of information that you or I find useful.
Useful because it’s health giving, vitality boosting, life extending, mood lifting stuff….
And not a lip synching monkey in sight!
One of the amazing things about digging around in research, natural remedy resources and medical sites is the frequency that old remedies appear.
It is so common that products come to light that would have had the old woman of the village branded as a witch if she was seen using them.
Now though you will find doctors, scientists and learned folk extolling the virtues of all sorts of natural products.
It’s something that I have become quite passionate about, especially having met and worked with a registered medical herbalist who has blended some special and restorative teas for us.
The Ancient Remedies
What medical herbalists can achieve using a deep knowledge of plants and herbs is quite astounding, but nothing new.
Back in the mists of time our ancestors would have tried all the things they found around them to help deal with health complaints.
Just imagine how the first person felt after suffering from a blinding headache then relieving it by chewing on a piece of willow tree bark.
They wouldn’t have realised it, but that was what we now call aspirin.
How about the worried children who saw their mother begin to suffer chest pains and have trouble breathing, suddenly revive after drinking an infusion of Foxglove flowers and leaves?
Of course, we know that this was the source of one of the earliest heart drugs, digoxin/digitalis, but to them it was a miracle of Mother Nature.
The list of such natural herbal medications is endless and worthy of many months of research, and it has certainly become a source of fantastic interest for me.
My walks with the dog have taken on new meaning as I look into the hedgerows and begin to recognise some of the plants that I have been reading about.
Chickweed can be eaten both raw and cooked but also is excellent when used as a poultice dressing on infected wounds, both for animals and humans.
Dandelions are rich in vitamins and minerals, dandelions are great for people who need vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, and calcium in their bodies.
Echinacea has been used as medicine in the form of teas, juice, and extracts for centuries. It works best to shorten symptoms of the common cold, though more studies need to verify its benefit and how it boosts immunity when a virus is present.
Peppermint is popular as a flavour in gum, toothpaste and desserts for its fresh taste, and it also makes a delightful tea that helps relieve tummy aches, nausea and muscle pain.
Stinging Nettles have been widely used as a medication with the aerial parts of the plant historically used as natural anti-histamine to combat allergies. However, the nettle has been increasingly studied and potential new uses include treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Evening Primrose oil derived from the leaves of this plant contains the pain-relieving compound phenylalanine. This gives Evening Primrose remarkable healing properties.
Elder flowers have both anti-septic and anti-inflammatory effects, so country folk have been using them in home-remedies for centuries. A mix of elderflower and water can be used to alleviate symptoms of anything from the common cold to some forms of arthritis.
Mother Nature at her finest
Armed with this knowledge recently I return home with pockets bulging with crab apples, blackberries and sloes (all fabulous for chutneys, jams and adding to a favourite tipple), but also a varied collection of new discoveries that I find out about.
It has become a new hobby, and I am learning so much although I am not brave enough to make my own potions yet… I prefer to trust to my friend Lizzie Foulon the herbalist.
Using her knowledge and experience I now have access to some great tasting and health boosting blends of teas.
If you’re interested in trying one of her special blends there are two on the shop right now, although the supply is limited as she prepares the packs in small batches only;
Next time you’re out for a walk just keep your eyes peeled for something interesting in the hedgerow and take a photo and do your own research to see what you have growing near to you.
It will hook you too!